Cover: Paris at War: 1939–1944, from Harvard University PressCover: Paris at War in HARDCOVER

Paris at War


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Product Details


$35.00 • £28.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674504813

Publication Date: 11/16/2015


592 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

40 halftones, 3 maps

Belknap Press


David Drake writes a narrative of the capital during [World War II] that, by catching the mood of those Parisians who wrote diaries and journals of the Occupation, restores a humane sense of reality to a story that can easily be reduced to one of derring-do (on the part of resisters) or cloak-and-dagger machinations (on the part of Laval, his enemies on the Right, and the German officials who alternately loathed and manipulated him). Built up on a deep engagement with the practical problems of living in Paris, as well as an elegant account of how Nazi authorities squabbled over its management, Drake’s book is hugely readable and satisfyingly detailed.—Julian Wright, The Times Literary Supplement

Offer[s] a rich and immediate history of both occupied Paris and occupied Parisians—and leaves the reader fearing for the fates of those for whom death seemed certain.—Victoria Harris, Times Higher Education

David Drake’s Paris At War: 1939–1944 is perhaps the best attempt, of a great many, to convey how daily life felt under Nazi occupation. A vast range of sources have gone into creating a portrait of grim times that is full of nuance and free, mercifully, of assertion.—Ian Bell, The Herald [Glasgow, Scotland]

A narrative that illuminates the day-to-day experiences of the rich and poor, collaborators, black marketers, Resistance fighters, Jews, and communists… Engaging and informative.—Glenn C. Altschuler, The Philadelphia Inquirer

By incorporating excerpts from diaries and letters that until now had not been translated into English, Drake adds fresh perspective to events—Verdun hero Philippe Pétain’s willingness to lead the collaborationist Vichy government, Charles de Gaulle’s Free French resistance—that have been documented many times before… The message of this powerful book is that most Parisians were neither heroes nor collaborationists but ordinary people trying to survive.—Michael Magras, The Star Tribune [Minneapolis, MN]

David Drake’s Paris at War: 1939–1944 is a remarkable book… Drake has revived the Occupation period with an obsessive and impressive sense of detail. Sometimes the book feels almost too close, too vividly evocative not to hurt… The force of Paris at War is that it brings together all of these disparate scenes to realize (in the stronger sense of the verb) their full weight. The book is an accumulation of moments, facts, words—a sum of more than 400 pages which has the feel of a definitive, though necessarily incomplete, monument… Paris at War should therefore be read attentively and in its entirety, for all its many nuances, its subtle patterns and motives, its skillful interpretation of Paris during an exceptionally traumatic period.—Elodie Roy, PopMatters

Above all, [Drake] has created a social history that brings alive a unique moment in Europe’s recent past.—Dan Carrier, Camden New Journal

With access to the diaries of everyday citizens who lived through the Nazi occupation of Paris, Drake assembles a valuable picture of ‘personal history, remembered conversations, the minutiae of routine, fragments of memory.’ …Presenting the story chronologically, Drake creates an easily comprehensible, even exciting, narrative. The author vividly portrays the desperation of searching for food, fuel, and clothing, along with the dangers of arrest and false accusations… The passive resistance, the roundups, the collaborationists, and the young communists are all part of the lore of wartime Paris, and Drake does a solid job exploring how it all affected ‘Parisians of all ages.’ Students of French and World War II history will enjoy and learn from this well-written book.Kirkus Reviews

A fascinating, quick-paced, and moving history with a strong narrative. Drake’s Paris at War is the product of thorough and far-reaching research and sensitive interpretation.—Rod Kedward, author of France and the French: A Modern History

David Drake’s gripping story moves away from well-known heroes and villains to the lives of ordinary Parisians and their daily struggle to survive the vagaries of the German occupation… He captures the sense of helplessness as citizens confronted repression, hunger, fierce winters and even Allied bombing. Rich in detail and eye-opening anecdotes, these pages make an important contribution to the scholarship of the occupation by remembering the most innocent and vulnerable victims of the darkest years of the City of Light.—Alan Riding, author of And The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris

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